Arrive in Istanbul and transfer to the Corinthian.
Call at Canakkale, your gateway for Troy, where ongoing archaeological excavations have revealed nine different layers of cities superimposed in rings on a massive mound rising above the “windswept” Plain of Ilium. It was to one of these cities, as legend has it, that the Greeks fought the Trojans as told by Homer in his Iliad.
Drive to the ancient city of Ephesus, renowned for its great mother goddess, Cybele, later identified as Artemis, or Diana of the Ephesians. Ephesus was for a time the most important commercial city in Asia Minor. The immense Hellenistic and Roman excavation site includes the ancient theater, the imposing Library of Celsus, the hill houses with their fantastic mosaics and frescoes, and early Byzantine remains. Spend the afternoon at leisure in Kusadasi or alternatively, tour Priene, a 4th-century b.c. city in a spectacular setting.
Morning arrival in Crete, home to the earliest European civilization, the Minoan. Land at Rethymnon, considered one of the island’s most characteristic towns. Evidence of the long Venetian and Turkish occupations can be seen in the town’s architecture. Dominated by a great Venetian fortress, Rethymnon’s old town is spread between the fortress and the harbor. Also explore Knossos, the most imposing Minoan palace of the island.
Spend a relaxing day at sea enjoying Corinthian’s fine amenities as you cruise toward Sicily.
Syracuse sits at the head of a beautiful bay on Sicily’s southeast coast. Colonized by the Greeks in the 8th century b.c., Syracuse became one of the most powerful and prestigious cities of the ancient world, rousing the hostility of Athens. Discover the spectacular 15,000-seat Greek theater, among the most impressive to survive from antiquity, and the elliptical Roman amphitheater, one of the largest of its kind. After a visit to the Archaeological Museum, walk the winding lanes of Syracuse’s Old Town, situated on the island of Ortygia, and explore the remains of the Temple of Apollo, the Fountain of Aretusa, and the Cathedral, which incorporates the remains of the famed Temple of Athena.
Built around an attractive bay, Otranto was the embarkation port of the Crusades and a leading trading center between Venice, the cities of Dalmatia, and the Eastern Mediterranean. In the center of the town stands a 15th – 16th-century castle, with its bastions facing the sea. Nearby is the 11th-century cathedral, known for its floor mosaic depicting biblical and other scenes and also the Byzantine church of San Pietro, whose interior is covered with frescoes.
Magnificently set amid Europe’s southernmost fjord, Kotor was well regarded for its masons and icon artists. On a walking tour through this car-free UNESCO World Heritage Site, visit the 12th-century Cathedral of St. Tryphon, as well as the Cathedral Square and the Lapidarium.
Explore Dubrovnik, the medieval stronghold of Ragusa, which rivaled Venice for control of the sea. Visit the Franciscan and Dominican Monasteries, view works by Titian and Andrea del Sarto in the Baroque Cathedral, and see the courtyard of the Rector’s Palace.
Originally a Greco-Illyrian settlement called Aspalathos, Split is an ancient city centered around the formidable Palace of Diocletian, built in a.d. 295. An extensive structure, much of which is well preserved, the palace contains within its walls Split’s medieval town, making it the only palace that has been continuously inhabited since Roman times. Also visit the Archaeological Museum.
Disembark in Venice and transfer to the airport for return flights home.